cover image Dirty Little Secret

Dirty Little Secret

Jon Stock. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-312-64478-9

A confusing, bloated plot mars Stock’s third and final thriller featuring renegade MI6 agent Daniel Marchant (after 2012’s Games Traitors Play). In a quest that jumps around Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, Marchant leads the hunt for Salim Dhar, his half-brother, who is the engineer of several recent deadly bombings in Britain, including one that severed the undersea data cable that links MI6 with the CIA. Finally, Marchant confronts Dhar just as the terrorist is attempting to take down, with Iranian help, a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Readers may be disappointed to find that the characters, including Marchant, adhere closely to their genre roles. Unlike the first two entries, this volume speaks more with the voice of a loud action drama than in the hushed, nuanced tones of the best of fictional spycraft. A clichéd ending detail leaves the door open to further adventures. Agent: Claire Conrad, Janklow & Nesbit (U.K.). (Mar.)